Arrow Episode 8 - Vendetta (2012): TV Recap
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After last episode ended with a kiss, this episode opens with Oliver and Helena in bed. Helena, who is trying to take down her father’s illegal business operations, sneaks out to assassinate Zhishan, the head of the Triad. Oliver is trying to get Helena to focus on justice instead of revenge, so he follows her out and fouls her aim as she tries to take her shot. Disaster is averted for the moment. Because Frank Bertinelli thinks the Triad is taking out all his business associates, the Triad would assume Bertinelli was behind an assassination and start an all-out war (although, wouldn’t the Triad also assume that the assassination attempt was also Bertinelli’s doing?).
Oliver takes Helena to Big Belly Burger for a (gasp!) second date to impress upon her the importance of killing people only when it’s necessary (like if someone figures out you are good at parkour, like Oliver did in the pilot episode), not as the opening move. He wants to show Helena a way to take down her father’s organization without putting innocent people at risk. In the first place, who is Oliver to get on his moral high horse about killing people? In the second place, what innocent people has Helena killed? Who exactly is Oliver worried about here? Helena declines his offer, but I don’t understand why. Despite Oliver’s less-than-clean track record of avoiding murders, why would anyone turn down an offer to keep innocents from being killed?
Diggle tries to convince Oliver that he’s letting his feelings blind him to the danger of getting close to Helena, of trying to “save” her, but Diggle can see that the war she’s determined to start will catch innocent people in its wake. Oliver feels like he has to try, though.
He takes Helena to Sarah Lance’s grave, and recounts his origin story, which is so moving that Helena takes his hand. Unfortunately, she can’t open up to anyone since her fiancé was murdered, because she can’t risk being hurt again. I find it unlikely that her father is going have another of her fiancés whacked, so she might be a little overprotective of her feelings here, but Oliver assures her that he will “never” hurt her, which in television speak means he’s going to hurt her within the next twenty minutes or so.
Helena, buoyed by Oliver’s promises, heads to the arrowcave for some bow-and-arrow lessons. Shooting arrows requires patience and discipline, whereas guns are weapons of emotion and predictability. Ollie notes that their crusades both started with their fathers and shows her the list his father left him. She notices the name Anthony Venza in the book, an evil businessman who sells illegal prescription drugs, who does business with her father. He’s the perfect target for them to work on together.
Before heading out, Oliver puts Helena into a costume and gives her a crossbow, since her pure archery skills aren’t very good yet. They attack Venza at his warehouse, careful not to kill any “innocent” people. Helena even gets to deliver Ollie’s signature line: “You have failed this city.” After a brief workout, the police arrive and Oliver sums up their night’s work. “Millions of dollars’ worth of illegal drugs confiscated, a massive blow to your father’s criminal proceeds, and nobody had to die. Justice. What do you think?” Much like Laurel in episode 4, Helena is impressed by Oliver’s methods. “I think this feels good, and not just the justice part…” As they kiss, Helena is starting to let her guard down.
Felicity Smoak alerted Walter that his wife’s illicit business transactions had been traced by another organization, and provided their logo. While Moira heads out for the evening, Walter searches her room for further evidence. Inside a clock, he discovers a small box with the logo in question, and pulls out a small blank book just like the one Robert Queen gave to Oliver.
That evening, Oliver and Helena head over to a new restaurant for their third date, and bump into Tommy and Laurel. Since Tommy’s trust fund has been cut off, he’s having trouble getting a table, but Helena invites them to sit with her and Ollie, not realizing Laurel is the serious girlfriend from his origin story. Helena finds the dynamic weird, sitting with Oliver’s former lover who’s now dating his best friend. She storms off, blaming Oliver for making her have dinner with Laurel (even though it was her idea), and accusing him of still being in love with her. She saw it in his eyes, so it must be true! He denies it, but she’s probably right. Through no real fault of his own, Oliver has now broken his promise not to hurt the vulnerable and unstable Helena, so she reverts back to her old ways. Dressed in her new outfit, Helena storms into a Triad hideout and murders Zhishan, telling one of the thugs she hasn’t murdered to tell China White that Frank Bertinelli sends his regards.
China White responds by storming Franks house. “Leave no one alive,” she commands. During the confrontation, Oliver saves Frank by shooting several Triad goons (that’s justifiable, though!), allowing him to escape the house with a laptop full of his secrets. Helena isn’t so generous: she shoots Frank in the leg with her new crossbow, and reveals that she’s the one who has been killing his associates to get back at him for killing her fiancé. Just before she can put another bolt into her father, Oliver shoots her weapon away from her. Helena attacks Oliver, and during their fight, Frank reaches the crossbow and shoots his own daughter, dashing his hopes of winning a father-of-the-year award. Oliver takes Helena’s body back to his lair, leaving Frank to face the police.
Helena is pretty upset Oliver stopped her from murdering her father, but Oliver had good reason. He wasn’t just saving Frank, he was saving Helena from the burden of the guilt she would feel. Though he’s not dead, Frank is going to prison for the rest of his life, thanks to the secret-filled laptop he tried to escape with. Oliver’s pretty pleased with himself. “This is justice,” he says. “Then I guess you were right. I’m more interested in revenge.” Helena then threatens to expose his identity if he gets in her way again.
Oliver tries drowning his sorrows at the Big Belly Burger with some jalapeno chili cheese fries when Diggle arrives to put things in perspective. (Stephen Amell does a great job in this scene of looking like he’s completely disgusted with himself for indulging in those chili cheese fries. You can almost see him calculating how many salmon ladders he’s going to have to do to work them off.) Oliver has to keep everyone he loves at a distance to protect them from his vigilante activities, so he was desperate to share himself with someone. “I don’t think love is about changing or saving a person,” Diggle says, “I think it’s about finding the person who’s already the right fit.” Whoops. Oliver already burned that bridge. “Napalmed it, actually.”
After investigating the book Walter found, Felicity figured out that some magic glasses from applied sciences will let him read the names printed within. What will Walter do with this information? It looks like Moira’s secrets may have driven an irreparable wedge between them.
Finally, Tommy approaches Oliver to tell him that his trust fund has been cut off. While Oliver generously offers to share his, Tommy isn’t after that. He wants to change. Working may make him more worthy of Laurel, so instead of living of his father’s (or Oliver’s father’s) wealth, he wants a job. Luckily, Oliver has an opening for a general manager of his night club.
Arrow airs Wednesdays at 8pm Eastern on CW. Vendetta originally aired 12/5/12.